Monday, April 28, 2014

God is With Him

“And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  Acts 4:29-30

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.”  John 3:1-2

Father, enable your servants to hear your Word, speak your Word and act upon your Word.  Jesus, stretch forth your hands and reveal your plans for us.  Send forth your Holy Spirit that we can carry on being your hands in this crazy, amazing and confusing world. Amen.

Ever wonder what became of Nicodemus after the Crucifixion?  Instead of telling us that next chapter in his life, a week after Easter, the Church goes back and offers us another look at the scriptural introduction to this Pharisee.  On first glance, it seems WAY out of sequence.  However, a deeper reading reveals that from this very first reported encounter with Christ, Nicodemus seemed to fully understand who Jesus was.  “We know you come from God.”  He was never in the camp that wanted to condemn Jesus and turn the Lord over to the Romans.  Not only does Nicodemus reveal that God is with Jesus, his belief also reveals that God is at work through Nicodemus.

Once Nicodemus acknowledged and did not challenge or test Jesus with silly questions on the census or taxes, then the Lord knew that he could pose the next challenge.  Knowing Jesus is only part of the solution.  The other half of the solution is that the knowledge of Jesus must change us and our aims in life.  This is where we must refute the “fleshy” desires and replace them with a higher purpose:  “What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’” 

If Nicodemus was not amazed and confused with this message, Jesus then reveals an even more cryptic riddle of the wind:  “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  (John 3:6-7)  We can turn to the Hebrew Bible for one clue about this meaning: “One who pays heed to the wind will never sow, and one who watches the clouds will never reap.  Just as you do not know how the life breath enters the human frame in the mother’s womb, So you do not know the work of God, who is working in everything.”  Ecclesiastes 11:4-5

God is working in everything…including this Pharisee.  Nicodemus does not know where it will take him but we do.  We know it will take him to the foot of the cross with Joseph of Aramithea to give Jesus a proper burial when all the Lord’s other friends deserted him. 

We may never know the timeless works that the Lord has woven into our hearts any more than Nicodemus knew what was in store for him in the light of day or Judas knew what was in store for him in the cover of darkness. However, our daily pursuit of piety, study and action will fill our day so that the crooked path of sin has less time to work. 

How is God with you today?

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